Monday, October 26, 2015

Monarchs in the park

Central Park: monarchs resting on an indigenous black cherry (Prunus serotina) tree.

And feasting on an invasive butterfly bush (Buddleia). So..?

It does raise all the interesting questions regarding the native/invasive plant divide. Could the park plant more milkweed species? Yes. There are very few. But even if there were many, these butterflies are feeding on nectar, in October. Milkweed blooms in June. And it is their larvae that eat the milkweed leaves. 

More native nectar? And what is that, at this time of year? Suggestions welcome.

(Speaking of parks: six five spots left on my Ramble in the Ramble, on Nov. 15, see below to book.)


  1. Our native asters and goldenrods would be a nice addition to the autumnal nectar offerings, I think. And they are so lovely blooming together.

  2. I've seen butterflies everyday on my asters here in MN. And also sedum clusters.

  3. mainly it's encouraging that they are still feeding this late in the year, and will hopefully have a successful trip South. Planning to plan some milkweed next year - even tho it's orange and yellow and won't match a thing in my garden!

  4. I echo Briar and Kelly, Asters and Solidago are both solid nectar sources for this time of year. Aster oblongifolius is a gorgeous late blooming native species that's also deer resistant with fragrant foliage. Aster tataricus is another good late season bloomer, but not native. Vernonia is a little past and our native sedums have already stopped blooming but both would have been good a few weeks ago.

    I have heard an argument that late nectar sources encourage Monarchs to stay later than they should, but I've also heard compelling arguments that they migrate for reasons deeper/beyond food availability so it doesn't matter. I've never looked deeply enough to find a solid answer to the issue. That said, we know that some butterflies don't have enough fat reserves to make the trip (relayed to me by the poobahs at the Cape May Monarch banding site), so I'm happy to offer native and non-native nectar sources until there's a solid answer in the hope that the extra juice helps a few more make the trip.


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